Trains are not new. Not by a long shot. There was a time when trains shaped America, connected it, and transported all its people. Trains brought the trappings of civilization to my ancestors in the west. They transported some of my ancestors to the west!
In my family history is the story of a young man returning to Utah from his mission in Europe. When he got home, he complained to his mother about how boring the train ride across the Great Plains was. "Mile after mile, for three straight days, everything the same!'
"I know, dear," his mother said. "I walked the whole way . . ."
More recently, there was a time when streetcars adorned every street in downtown Salt Lake City. There was a time when the best basketball players at Spanish Fork High School were from Salem, because the people from Salem had to catch the train to school early in the morning, and so had time to practice before school. There was a time when everyone took trains!
|Also of historical interest, some route numbers shown on this map (1, 2, 3, 18, 19, 20, 23) persisted until the 2007 redesign. I suddenly noticed that one day and was newly fascinated by the map for longer than I care to admit here.|
You can read elsewhere about America's awkward transition from streetcars to buses (and get wildly different takes on the matter). Whatever your opinion, I think we can all agree that cars have reigned supreme around here for many decades now, even if that reign is becoming harder and harder to maintain. For a long time, when we talked about trains, we talked about them in the past, wistfully imagining what it would be like to get anywhere you wanted all the time on transit.
Now, we can remember the trains of the past when we ride the train. And I'm very grateful for that.